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Political Scene

- - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MINNESOTA

Legislator wants no Jesus prayers

ST. PAUL | A Jewish Minnesota lawmaker is asking state Senate leaders to allow only nondenominational prayers to open sessions.

Democratic Sen. Terri Bonoff says she felt "highly uncomfortable" when a Baptist pastor repeatedly mentioned Jesus Christ and Christianity in an invocation Monday.

Miss Bonoff says she wants Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch to change the letter submitted to visiting chaplains to say they are "required," rather than "requested," to make prayers nondenominational.

A spokesman for Miss Koch says Wednesday that Miss Bonoff and Miss Koch had been in touch. Miss Koch didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Several Jewish senators who are Democrats are backing Miss Bonoff's request. She's meeting resistance from some Republicans who say lawmakers shouldn't censor visiting chaplains' prayers.

STATE

Clinton: No interest in job past 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she does not want to stay in her job if President Obama wins a second term in 2012.

The nation's top diplomat also firmly said she neither has plans to mount another White House bid nor interest in other posts, such as vice president or defense secretary.

Mrs. Clinton, visiting Cairo, was asked whether she would stay on in a second Obama term. She also was asked if she would like the jobs of president, vice president or defense secretary. She offered single word responses to each: "No."

HOUSE

GOP: Bureau too powerful

House Republicans said Wednesday that a new government agency designed to protect consumers from problems with mortgages and other financial products has too much power. They also criticized it for participating in a federal-state effort to force mortgage servicers to change the way they foreclose on troubled homeowners.

But testifying to Congress, the White House official assembling the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made no apologies. Elizabeth Warren said the agency was badly needed, long overdue and might have helped the country avoid the housing and financial crises of the last several years had it been created earlier.

Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican, said the agency will likely be "the most powerful agency that's ever been created in Washington." He and other Republicans have complained that Congress doesn't control the bureau's budget, that it will be headed by a director and not a bipartisan commission, and that it has strong leeway to decide which financial products it will curb.

"You have a lot of discretion and a lot of power, but I see very little accountability," Mr. Bachus said.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama bucks up donors for fight

President Obama is urging Democratic donors to hang on to the enthusiasm they felt during his first run for the White House as his 2012 re-election campaign approaches.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that in 2008 it felt like "lightning in a bottle" and it's sometimes easy to take his historic presidential victory for granted. But the president said there's more work to do, so donors must stay engaged.

The president struck a carefully nonpartisan tone in his comments to about 500 members of the Democratic National Committee's national finance committee at a Washington hotel.

He said sometimes people might want him to punch back harder against partisan attacks but that it's important to come together for the country. Mr. Obama has largely adopted a tone of compromise since Democrats' midterm election losses.

CONGRESS

Lawmakers seek safer kid helmets

Two Democratic lawmakers are trying to get football helmet companies to make safer helmets for kids.

Their proposal is intended to make sure that helmets address concussion risk for players at the high school level and below.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell say legislation they introduced on Wednesday would give companies nine months to improve helmet standards, which are now voluntary.

NEW YORK

First lady to pen book about garden

NEW YORK | There's a new author in the White House: Michelle Obama.

The first lady has signed with the Crown Publishing Group for a book about healthy eating and the garden she started on the South Lawn of the White House. The book, currently untitled, is scheduled to come out in April 2012. Crown announced Wednesday that Mrs. Obama received no advance and will donate all proceeds to a charity or charities to be determined.

NEVADA

Angle jumps into House race

LAS VEGAS | Nearly five months after her bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid ended in defeat, Sharron Angle said Wednesday she'll run for Congress again in an effort to "stop the liberal agenda."

Mrs. Angle told supporters via YouTube, Twitter and an e-mail that she will pursue one of Nevada's four U.S. House seats in 2012.

"With your help we can once again change the country's direction like we started in 2010," she wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

Mr. Reid beat Mrs. Angle by 6 percentage points in November after a bitter campaign. But she put up a strong fight, raising $14 million in one three-month fundraising quarter and finishing ahead in a series of polls.

The high-profile race helped to make her a tea party leader and in her concession speech, she indicated she likely would pursue office again. Recently, she has traveled to Republican rallies in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and kept followers abreast of her whereabouts through her Twitter account.

Mrs. Angle previously ran for the House in 2006, but lost to Republican Rep. Dean Heller. He announced Tuesday that he'll run for Sen. John Ensign's seat, clearing a path for Mrs. Angle in the rural Nevada House seat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports